Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can incur heavy fines, license suspension, and even jail time. However, certain factors determine whether Washington State’s legal system deems your infraction a misdemeanor or felony.
Understanding the difference between the two and the contributing factors to how the court classifies a misdemeanor versus felony DUI can help you defend yourself and prepare for what’s ahead.
How Does Washington State Determine Between A Misdemeanor And Felony DUI Charge?
Washington State law determines between a misdemeanor and felony DUI charges based on several factors, such as how many DUI convictions you’ve had in the past, if drugs were involved, and your Blood Alcohol Content test and results.
Felony charges possess more serious consequences than misdemeanors, and typically an “aggravating factor” must be present for the prosecutor to elevate the charge to a felony level. Aggravating factors can include driving without a license, previous DUI convictions, etc.
A court will elevate a DUI conviction to a felony if:
the driver has four or more prior DUI related offenses within the last 10 years;
a driver has a previous conviction for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while under the influence;
a driver has a prior felony DUI conviction.
What Are The Main Differences Between A Misdemeanor And Felony DUI Charge?
The main differences between a misdemeanor and felony DUI charge rest in the severity of the charges and the consequences. However, all Washington State DUI convictions require some minimum jail time.
In Washington State, a misdemeanor DUI’s punishment ranges from 24 hours to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Your BAC results or if you refused a BAC test will determine the jail sentence length.
A gross misdemeanor’s punishments can range from 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
If you’re charged with a felony, the punishment is sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act guidelines. Under the SRA, your prior DUI convictions within the ten-year window count as “points” against you. With three prior points, the judge will sentence you to at least 13 months of jail time. Felonies are also charged in Superior Court, opposed to District Court for misdemeanors.
What Should I Do If I Am Being Charged With A DUI In Washington State?
If you have been charged with a DUI in Washington State, contact VanWa’s offices right away. Our team has vast experience navigating the complex DUI laws of Washington State.
VanWa’s legal team offers free consultations to prospective clients so you can understand how the details of your case may affect the result.
After being charged or, in many cases, only arrested with a second DUI in Washington State, the Washington State Department of Licensing or courts revoke your driver’s license. Losing your license can affect your ability to get to work, care for your family, and generally disrupt your life.
Enlisting the help of a law firm with a deep understanding of Washington State DUI law can help you reinstate your driver’s license quickly.
Does Washington State Revoke Your Driver’s License After A Second DUI?
Generally, after someone has been caught driving under the influence (DUI) for the second time in seven years, the court will revoke their driver’s license. How long your license is suspended depends on the conditions you were caught under.
It’s important to note that second offenders who are caught driving with a BAC of .08% or more or with a THC concentration of at least five nanograms per milliliter of blood typically face a two-year license suspension.
After being pulled over, if you are a second offender and refuse chemical testing, you will likely face an administrative license suspension of two years or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.
If you have been convicted of a DUI for a second time, regardless of when your prior offense occurred, the Washington State Dept. of Licensing requires you to have ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on your vehicles at least five years.
If a passenger under the age of 16 was in the vehicle at the time of your second offense, you would be required to have IIDs for at least five-and-a-half years.
How Do I Reinstate My License After It’s Been Revoked After A Second Time?
After your second DUI offense, the Dept. of Licensing will set a time for your license to be suspended. Your first option is to let this time frame pass and then provide the court with an SR-22 Financial Responsibility Form and pay a $75 fee. You may also need to pay the fee for a new license.
Your second option is to seek treatment and request a hearing. When you’re convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense, you will be required to obtain an Alcohol/Drug Assessment Treatment Report from a Washington State certified agency.
At the hearing, you’re allowed to have representation. During the hearing, your level of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of the offense will be considered, as well as if you were advised of your rights, if you were operating the vehicle at the time of arrest, and if the officer had reasonable grounds to assume you were driving under the influence.
If the hearing examiner does not rule in your favor, you have the right to file an appeal.
What Should I Do If My Driver’s License Has Been Revoked Because Of A DUI?
If the courts or the Washington State Dept. of Licensing have revoked your driver’s license due to your second DUI offense, contact the Van Wa law firm right away. We offer free consultations to help you obtain the best legal defense for your case.
Our team can help you start the process of getting your license and your freedom back.
Perhaps after a fun night out at a bar with friends, you thought you watched your drinking and decided to drive home. However, on the drive home, you were pulled over by a police officer — or worse, you were in an accident involving other people.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s not an open and shut case; an experienced lawyer can help you defend yourself against a DUI charge.
How Can I Defend Myself Against A DUI Charge?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, hire a lawyer as your first step. With the help of an attorney who is familiar with your local DUI laws, your defense can include strategies ranging from challenging the chemical tests, proving the officer testimony isn’t accurate, to challenging if the officer had probable cause in pulling you over in the first place.
If your lawyer decides to challenge any chemical tests administered at the scene, first, they’ll explore if the officer informed you of implied consent advisement. If you agree to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test and fail, your license will automatically be suspended in many states. It is the officer’s responsibility to inform you of these consequences before administering the test. Some states also require the officer to give the driver a choice of breath or blood test at the scene. If the officer didn’t offer this option, the court could throw out the test results.
Next, your lawyer will ensure the officer or person administering the test followed state protocols and all the tests were calibrated correctly, and they followed the medical protocol.
The next strategy will utilize any other eyewitnesses to dispute officer testimony about the driver’s erratic behavior or state.
Finally, your lawyer will explore if there was probable cause to pull you over in the first place, which led to the officer administering a chemical test, and if the officer administered your Miranda rights.
What Should I Do If I Need To Defend Myself Against A DUI Charge?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, call the VanWa offices right away to help you build your legal strategy.
VanWa’s attorneys have defended thousands of DUI cases in front of Washington State courts. Washington State’s DUI laws are nuanced, and a typical DUI case may require multiple expert witnesses and require scientific evidence. We know a good trial attorney is detail-oriented, and that can make or break your case.
We know this can already be challenging for our clients, so we try to provide support through a free initial consultation to understand your case better. If you decide to work with us, we offer flat-fee pricing regardless of how many hearings or work your case requires.
Being convicted of a DUI for a second time can result in layers of penalties, including jail time, onerous fines, and losing your license for years. Throw in ignition interlock devices and other even less pleasant outcomes, and you can quickly see the need for expert legal help as quickly as you can get it. With experienced counsel, it is possible to get charges dismissed or significantly reduced.
One of the first things someone accused of DUI learns once they are entered into the legal system is that the cases can be overwhelmingly complex. If proper process isn’t followed, the penalties that someone convicted of DUI face can radically effect their lives for years to come. There is a lot of misinformation flying about on the internet about how to handle a DUI charge. If you decide to follow some of this misguided advice or worse, represent yourself at your hearing, you could end up in a vary bad position.
Washington is a beautiful state to live in, especially in the town of Vancouver and Travis County. However, if you aren’t familiar with the local DUI laws, you can wind up in a lot of trouble. Here you will learn what can happen if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test.
The Scenario: Refusing A Breathalyzer Road Test
Imagine driving home after having a few drinks with your friends after work, you’re almost to your road when red and blue lights flash in the background and hear the dreaded wail of the siren.
You do the right thing and pull over. The officer asks if you’ve been drinking and you reply that you haven’t, but he doesn’t believe you. Next, the officer asks you to take a DUI breath test, you refuse. Now what?
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Washington State
Due to some hardline Washington legislation known as, implied consent, your bout of rebellion could get you in trouble. Implied consent assumes that every licensed driver in the state of Washington has an obligation to take a breathalyzer test when asked by an officer.
The only caveat here is that for implied consent to apply, you must have been lawfully arrested for a DUI. If the officer violated any protocol that could make it an unlawful arrest, you’ll have more opportunity for recourse.
Criminal charges and steeper penalties can be imposed if you are convicted of a DUI after refusing to take the test. The arresting officer typically informs the Department of Licensing in regards to your refusal. Your license will subsequently be suspended for a period between 2-4 years depending on the presence of prior DUI convictions.
Your Options When Your Refuse the Breathalyzer in Washington State
If you’ve already refused to take a breathalyzer test, you should consult with a DUI defense attorney at your earliest convenience. Preparing your DUI criminal defense should be a top priority, especially if you have any previous DUI convictions.
In addition to unlawful arrest, another factor that could help lighten the penalties is if the officer did not tell you about the consequences of refusing the breathalyzer test. If that’s the case, then a competent DUI defense attorney can use the officer’s negligence to your advantage in court. Little details like that can make a big difference, which is why you should tell your attorney everything. No detail is too small when preparing a DUI criminal defense.
You should know that the DUI laws in the state of Washington are completely different from those of other states like Massachusetts. For example, in Massachusetts, if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test it will not be counted as an admission of guilt and your refusal can’t be used as evidence in court.
It pays to know the law, but as a citizen, you can’t be expected to know every detail, that’s why it’s imperative that you get yourself some knowledgeable representation. Remember, having a capable DUI defense attorney is key to protecting yourself and ensuring that your rights are respected.
Do you or a loved one need guidance navigating the complex DUI and criminal justice system in Vancouver WA? Give our DUI defense attorney Roger Priest a call today to discuss your unique legal situation, the help you need is just a phone call away.
“Is Refusing A Breathalyzer An Admission Of Guilt? | Attorney At Law Magazine.” Attorney at Law Magazine. N.p., 2019. Web. 12 Dec. 2019.
“Washington’S Implied Consent Laws And Refusing A DUI Alcohol Test.” dui.drivinglaws.org. N.p., 2019. Web. 12 Dec. 2019.
If you are stopped and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), a series of processes are set in motion. Although these processes may vary by state, the basic sequence is:
Sentencing (if convicted)
What is Arraignment?
At your arraignment you will have your charges read to you and you will be asked if you need representation. As you may have in heard in any of the multitude of TV crime shows, if you can’t afford an attorney, the court may assign one to you. Lastly, you will be asked to how you plead to your charges. Because most people plead guilty at this phase, either because they lack adequate knowledge or the evidence against them appears overwhelming, this is as far as most DUI arraignments go. Sentencing is passed and the person must now deal with the consequences
Besides taking the time to become familiar with the proper way to behave should you be stopped on suspicion of DUI, there are advantages to securing competent council as soon as possible after the stop as possible. Being stopped can be a chaotic event for someone unfamiliar with with the process and it is possible that you might miss an important point that could help you defend yourself in court. Having a legal professional on your side can give you the information you need to dismiss charges once you arrive in court. In addition, experienced council can greatly assist in guiding through your arraignment. Legal proceedings can seem to happen very quickly for the uninitiated and competent council can help reduce the stress on you at that time.
If You Decide to Plead Not Guilty
If you decide to plead not guilty at your arraignment (which is expected), you will have a court date set for your trial. Although you will have the opportunity to represent yourself during the trial, this is usually have bad ideal. Without familiarity with court procedures, it is likely that you will make a mistake that could end up costing you in multiple ways. Your best chance during a trial is to have experienced council at your side. In-depth knowledge of the nuances that state legal systems have can make the difference between having a case dismissed, onerous sentences or, in some cases, acquittal. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact and hire an experienced attorney immediately.
After being arrested, one of the concerns that might weigh most heavily on your mind may be what to tell your family or employer. The answer depends on multiple factors: the circumstances of the arrest, how it might impact your job or family life, or the consequences you’re facing as a result of the arrest.
Telling Your Family About An Arrest
As much as you may dread it, you should probably tell your family about your arrest. They’ll be disappointed and angry, but if they find out through the media or other people, it can make a bad situation much worse.
In delivering the news, it’s probably best to be straightforward. Explain the circumstances of your arrest, the next steps of the criminal justice process, and the best case and worst-case scenarios, if you know them. If you’ve hired a lawyer, let them know. Help them to feel reassured by speaking in a calm voice, expressing regret for what happened, and letting them know you’re trying to minimize any adverse impact on the family.
You probably shouldn’t share too many details about the actions that led to your arrest, especially any potentially self-incriminating information. Your lawyers should tell you which details should remain between you and them. If you don’t know what you shouldn’t talk about, ask your lawyer.
Telling Your Your Employer About An Arrest
Before you tell your employer about your arrest, it’s a good idea to speak with your lawyer. In some cases, it may not be necessary to share such information right away. An arrest is not the same as a conviction or pleading guilty, and it may come to nothing.
However, there may be certain circumstances where you should inform your employer as soon as possible. If the state, the industry, or company policy requires disclosure of an arrest, then you must report it immediately. In these circumstances, failing to disclose could cost your job–even if the arrest itself would not have, had you been honest.
You should also disclose the arrest if it affects your ability to perform your duties. For example, if you are a truck driver whose license was suspended because of a DUI arrest, you should let your employer know.
When it comes to employment, your best bet is to plan an approach to disclosure with your attorney. A good lawyer can help you protect your rights and job to the extent possible.
Being arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Washington state is a very serious charge that can have severe repercussions in your life for years down the road.
A court may suspend or revoke your drivers’ license, require you to pay stiff fines, or even sentence you to serve jail time. Your ability to keep and retain work becomes threatened with a criminal record and a revoked license, not to mention the thousands in court-related fees, DMV classes and the social stigma of having an arrest record.
You might be able to fight these charges if you can offer one or more of the following defenses.
The 3 Most Common DUI Defenses in Vancouver
The police didn’t have probable cause
Police officers must have “probable cause” to stop your vehicle or arrest you for driving under the influence. In other words, they must have good reason to believe that you have broken the law. In your defense, you’d argue that the police had no legitimate reason to stop or detain you in the first place. For example, you might be able to show that you weren’t driving erratically, your vehicle met all state requirements, etc.
You may also have a valid defense if there’s reason to believe that the police stopped you because of your race, religion, gender identification or national origin. Such markers of your identity are not an allowable legal basis for stopping you.
The police didn’t read your Miranda rights
Anyone who’s watched a television crime show has probably heard a police officer warn a suspect: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law…” These words, which also inform a suspect of their right to an attorney, are called a “Miranda warning” or reading your “Miranda rights.”
If the police arrest you on suspicion of a DUI and ask you incriminating questions, then they are required to give the Miranda warning. If they fail to do this, then your lawyer will likely ask the court to suppress any incriminating statements you made. The suppression of certain can sometimes lead to a plea deal or even dismissal of the case.
You were not “under the influence” or intoxicated
There might be a legitimate reason that explains your seemingly intoxicated behavior or even an elevated alcohol blood level. For example, you might have been driving erratically because you just pulled at 14-hour shift at work or were distracted by something inside the car. Certain foods and diets can also give a false positive for intoxication. Poppy seeds can give a false positive on a urine test, while strict followers of the Keto diet might get a false positive on a breathalyzer test.
Call our Vancouver WA DUI attorney now
Attorney Roger Priest is a Vancouver WA DUI attorney with deep experience arguing cases in the Clark County judicial system. If you are looking for a a criminal defense attorney who will will leave no stone un-turned in protecting your rights while in the court system, call Rodger Priest today.
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Many states have DUI laws that are broad enough to apply to bicycle riders. Oregon, for instance, makes no legal distinction between a DUI committed while driving a monster truck and while riding your bicycle. This may seem silly, as one is far more dangerous than the other. If you feel this way, then you share something in common with the Washington Supreme Court.
The Washington DUI law specifically prohibits driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A vehicle is defined by Washington law as any device capable of being moved upon a public highway. . . “including bicycles”. So, a quick review of the statutes would make it seem that you can, in fact, get a DUI for riding your bicycle.
This issue came up in the case of The City of Montesano v. Daniel Wells in 1995. Mr. Wells was convicted for riding his bicycle drunk and he appealed the conviction. The Washington Court of Appeals considered the statutes (and related statutes) and ultimately decided that the Washington legislature did not intend to extend the DUI laws to include bicyclists. Specifically, the court addressed the seemingly interchangeable usage of the terms “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” in the various DUI statutes(which there are several). The court decided that even though the term “vehicle” used in the DUI statute, the various related DUI statutes that specifically use the term “motor vehicle” instead suggested that the legislature’s interchangeable usage of both “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” in the statutes was a product of “inattentive drafting” and applying the DUI statute to bicycling would lead to an absurd result.
This is a refreshing decision, considering that many states draw no distinction between motor vehicle DUIs and bicycle DUIs. Since a DUI carries harsh penalties for your driver’s license, including license suspension, ignition interlock device requirements, and SR-22 insurance requirements, it seems only natural that a DUI should only be imposed for driving a motor vehicle.
Going one step further, Washington has even implemented statutory protocols for law enforcement to offer safe rides for intoxicated bicycle riders. These statutory provisions arrange for how to secure and safely arrange for transport, impound and return of bicycles in such cases.
While a bicyclist cannot get a DUI, this doesn’t mean that you cannot get in legal trouble for drunk bicycling. Depending on the circumstances, you could still be charged for a variety of crimes if your bicycling while impaired runs afoul of other state laws. A couple of examples include:
1)Disorderly Conduct. It is a crime to obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority. If you are riding your bicycle in the roadway while either intoxicated or sober, you cannot unreasonably obstruct traffic. Therefore, if you drunkenly swerve into the roadway and cause an unsafe traffic situation, law enforcement might charge you with disorderly conduct. Disorderly Conduct is a simple misdemeanor charge.
2)Reckless Endangerment. It is a gross misdemeanor to recklessly engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person. If you ride your bicycle while intoxicated and do so recklessly, you might be in more serious trouble if doing so causes a wreck or otherwise causes a seriously dangerous situation for vehicular traffic on the roadways.
3)Reckless Driving. Like DUI, Reckless Driving ostensibly relates to “vehicles” and not just “motor vehicles”. WhileReckless Driving charges lodged against bicyclists might be susceptible to challenges similar to those in The City of Montesano v. Wells, there is no established case law that prohibits the prosecution from prosecuting a bicycle Reckless Driving case. If prosecuted, it would be incumbent on you to defend against the charge and hope to succeed in defending against the charge based on the case law analysis that worked in the Wells case.
In either regard, it only makes sense to not ride a bicycle while you are too impaired to safely ride. Choosing to ride your bicycle while impaired puts you at some risk of facing a criminal charge if you do so in an unsafe manner. So, always be careful.
This website is not designed to be particularized legal advice for any individual case. Any information contained herein is for generally informative purposes and cannot substitute for the assistance of an actual attorney. Simply reading this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between the reader and Roger Priest or VanWa Legal PLLC. Rather, if you wish to have the assistance of an attorney with your particular case, call to schedule a free consultation with Roger Priest.